Understanding the Solvation-Dependent Properties of Cyclic Ether Multivalent Electrolytes Using High Field NMR and Quantum Chemistry

Highlighted are examples of natural abundance 43Ca NMR spectra acquired on a high field NMR spectrometer of 850 MHz (left) and computational models (right) that were used for predicting the experimentally observed NMR chemical shifts. The models illustrate extensive molecular exchange among/between the solvents, the cation, the anion and the various solvation structures.

Scientific Achievement

The influences of cation size and cyclic ether solvent structure on multivalent electrolyte solvation structure and dynamics were elucidated through theory and experiment.

Significance and Impact

Efficient cation transfer is a key for electrolyte design that can be achieved through a combination of small solvation structures, weak bonding, and quick exchange.  The tighter bonding observed for Zn2+ relative to Ca2+ indicates slower ion exchange and ionic diffusivity. Methylation of the cyclic ether tetrahydrofuran may provide improved electrochemical performance by weakening this bonding.

Research Details

  • Multi-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (17O, 43Ca and 67Zn NMR) provides spectroscopic fingerprints that readily couple with quantum chemistry to identify a set of most probable solvation structures based on the best agreement between the theoretically predicted and experimentally measured values of chemical shifts.
  • Quantum chemistry modeling provides a comparison of the solvation cluster formation energetics, allowing further refinement of the preferred solvation structures.

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DOI: 10.1021/jacsau.2c00046

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